Singapore International Jazz Festival kicked up this last Friday 4 March and lasted 3 days until Sunday 6 March. Set at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza, it was still a wonder for a newcomer like me to enjoy great acts in such a beautiful place by the bay.
Arriving at 7.30pm, I sadly missed the local opening acts of the festival - Dru Chen and well-known Charlie Lim, who got back on stage with Intriguant for a nice (but way too short) blend of electronica and pop. I also missed half of BADBADNOTGOOD set. Yep that's the drawbacks of being a student on an internship... Nonetheless I came in time to see the CBD lighting up to the sound of Canadian BADBADNOTGOOD. Quite magical, and I shall say that Jazz music has found its succession in these kids.
Friday night line-up was curated by Darker Than Wax. And if SingJazz 2016 was all about unveiling all scopes of jazz these days, Friday was mostly about the beat, hip hop and electro-infused scene courtesy of Darker Than Wax Sound System, BADBADNOTGOOD, Taylor McFerrin and Hiatus Kaiyote.
Longing to see Taylor McFerrin for quite some time now, I was pleased to finally catch the Brainfeeder artist on stage. A nice blend of chill-out beats, singing and beatboxing, Taylor McFerrin has wooed the crowd in his charming way. I was just a bit disappointed that the occasion has not been seized to make this featuring with Nai Palm alive.
No "The Antidote" tonight, but Nai Palm was definitely there to entertain the crowd with her band Hiatus Kaiyote. Though their set has been shorten up by technical issues - involving a lack of voice-return, it was as colorful and full of energy as their musical influences.DAY 2
Day 2 was dedicated to the local scene and funk/raggae blend. started under the sun and heat, and the heat just took off to another level with local band The Good Life Project's set, featuring singer Vandetta, followed by the soulful songs of Tim de Cotta.
One of Saturday's headline was Jeremy Monteiro, also known as Singapore's king of swing. The pianist had some friends over, including UK singer Tina May. From improvisation to scat, the essence of jazz was present throughout the day. One of the day's highlight has been Incognito - the worldwide band indulged the festival crowd with such a positive energy. Led by Jean-Paul 'Bluey' Maunick, the band conveyed a message of tolerance with its acid jazz, funk and soul music.
Vadim Eilenkrig cool off the crowd a bit with his trumpet skills. If his 15-minute set was too short, the stage was later taken by storm by the jazz-funk-by-way-of-raggae of Candy Dulfer. Blending all of her influence on stage, the Dutch saxophonist even managed to braught EDM in a jazz festival!
Due to a last minute change in the schedule and because all of the sets have been put up earlier, the Lush Limelight set has been cancelled both on Saturday and Sunday. Put up by local radio Lush FM, who invited local acts to play on Saturday and Sunday, this 15-minute set - in between 2 changes of the stage-setting - was supposed to showcase an exclusive collaboration between local artists. Quite a shame it had to be cancelled...
But of course the most awaited act was Joss Stone! If the UK singer sounds a bit naive when talking to the crowd, she sure knows how to move a crowd - especially an Asian (usually quite shy) one. With her incredible voice - though it sounds a bit less deep than on records, Joss Stone mesmerized the festival going from reggae, soul to romantic ballads - mostly playing new material out from her latest album Water for Your Soul. She delighted the crowd with a surprise collaboration with Candy Dulfer at the end of her set.DAY 3
I confess that on Sunday, out of pure gluttony trying Indian dishes in Little India, I showed up a little too late for Fauxe + Mediocre Haircut - but hopefully, I'll make up for my sins in the next few months.
So my musical day started out with the chill fusion of Tribal Tide, and trumpet solo (& lovely Italian accent) of Enrico Rava.
Sunday's most expected act was Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club on their Adios Tour. The Havana band was paying a tribute to their late members while treating the crowd with their most iconic tracks. The high-point of their set being the special appeareance of Cuban diva Omara Portundo, estupendamente stunning from her 85 years old. An exceptional singer and dancer, she put the crowd in awe by her voice, her energy and her dance moves.
To keep up on the Latino mood, Hector Infanzon took on the stage after the Buena Vista Social Club for a more electric moment highlighted by percussion solos and jam session led by the Mexican pianist.
Then we shifted continent, to welcome Level 42. Almost 36 years of activity and the UK band has still a lot of energy to share! Led by Mark King, playing the bass guitar and singing, Level 42 delivered about 45 minutes of jazz-funk.
For the end of the festival, we travel back to Nigeria thanks to Seun Kuti & Egypt 80. Afro beats as its finest, the music was albout shaking your ass off - but no matter how you do it, great chances are that you're not as talented at the back singers. Seun Kuti was brave enough to make a stand against financial system in a city-state like Singapore - known to be a financial hub. Ironically his critics and the song "IMF" (for International Mother Fukers) have been well received and even with a good deal of laughter among the crowd.
Actually Seun Kuti & Egypt 80's set was all about making a stand - against capitalism, patriarchy and prejudices. The final echoed the general praise for tolerance conveyed throughout the festival - be it by the artists themselves or by the festival's line-up, showcasing all of jazz influences and shifts. Yes, tolerance is the seed of acceptance, and what's best step to accept each others than by passing by music. Yes, jazz music is definitely a world music - in all of what the term encompasses.